Category: Folegandros (page 1 of 4)

Focussing on Folegandros

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Folegandros In Motion: Summer Timelapse & Dive! is a nearly 5-minute-long timelapse film showing beaches and many of the island’s top attractions, along with some undersea scenes from a scuba diving session

 

Photogenic island gem: I’m finding it hard to believe how quickly time has flown past since we spent a few days on Folegandros in 2007. It’s a charming little island we have always intended to revisit for a longer stay, but we just haven’t found a way to fit it into any of our island-hopping travel itineraries since — it’s off the main tourist ferry routes in the Cyclades, so it can be tricky to reach. And suddenly almost a decade has passed and a return trip isn’t on the immediate horizon for us. But I’m certain we will get to see it again. 

Fond memories of Folegandros came flooding back the other day when I found a fun short video that had recently been posted online. It’s about the passage of time, too, but in this instance it involves video timelapse photography of the island’s beaches and main attractions.

Produced by Indie Film Rebels filmmaking community, Folegandros In Motion: Summer Timelapse & Dive! opens with timelapse views of the Karavostasis ferry port, followed by four beaches — Agali, Galifos, Agios Nikolaos and Katergo — and the Chrysopigi monastery. The film then switches into real-time undersea footage from a scuba diving session with Folegandros Dive Center, then reverts to timelapse with views of Hora village, Church of Panagia, the seaside at Agios Georgios, Ampeli beach, a beautiful sunset, and a star-filled night sky observed from Livadi. There’s even a quick peek of the astounding views from the swimming pool at Provalma Studios.

 

Of course, as always happens whenever I find an interesting video about a Greek destination that fascinates me, I couldn’t just stop there — I had to hunt for more.

I found many, but the four I have posted below are the ones I enjoyed watching the most, since they took me right back to familiar sights and places that looked as if they haven’t changed since I saw them. If you’ve already been to the island, I’m sure you will recognize many if not most of the scenes in each clip. And if you haven’t been there yet, the films will give you a vivid visual feel for what it’s like to actually be on Folegandros. 

 

Folegandros 2015 is a 7.5-minute  video by YouTube contributor Xvijana.  It shows scenes from Hora, Pano Meria, the Panagia church, several beaches, the island’s bus, some hiking paths, and Ampelos Resort. If you like cats, you will love this clip — it features appearances by quite a few of the Folegandros felines.

 

This clip is an extended slide show of excellent Folegandros photographs shot in 2013  by ΠΑΝΑΓΙΩΤΟΥ ΧΡΗΣΤΟΣ

 

Folegandros 2015 features nearly four minutes of video vignettes filmed by Carlitos Iglesias

 

Although the narration for this film by Netherlands-based de Griekse Gids (Greek Guide) is in Dutch, you don’t have to understand the language to enjoy the 9-minute scenic tour in Eiland Folegandros

Summer hotel prices skyrocket on Mykonos as rates rise less sharply or drop on other islands

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Little Venice

The Little Venice seafront at Mykonos Town is a must-see attraction for hundreds of thousands of people who visit the island each year

 

Rising rates: Survey data from Trivago, the international hotel comparison website, has confirmed something I have been noticing for months — accommodation prices on Mykonos have risen sharply since last year.

In fact, the average nightly price for a Mykonos hotel room this month has climbed to a stunning €322 compared to €200 per night in July 2013 — a whopping 61% increase, Trivago’s research data indicates.

This news comes on the heels of a separate Trivago survey result released several days ago that ranked Mykonos as the 7th most expensive destination in the world in terms of hotel prices.

Many Mykonos hotels had frozen or even reduced their rates during the economic crisis that has devastated Greece for more than five years, with some properties losing money or barely breaking even each year as owners waited for the economy to improve. With Greek tourist traffic soaring to record levels this summer, it appears that hotels may be taking advantage of the increased demand for accommodation to try to recoup some of the losses they sustained.

 Parikia on Paros

Parikia is the biggest town and port on Paros.  Average hotel prices for Parikia have increased 10% this month from the same time last year.

 

Hotel prices rise at 16 other destinations

But Mykonos isn’t the only popular destination in Greece where hotel prices have increased since last year.

The Trivago survey shows that rates have climbed anywhere from 3% to 38% in 16 other island and mainland locations.

Places posting single-digit price increases include Corfu (+3%), Agios Nikolaos, Andros and Hydra (each +5%), plus Iraklio, Naxos and Rethymnon (up 8% each).

Locations with double-digit increases include Parikia (+10%), Rhodes (+15%), Chania (+16%), Hersonissos and Kos (each up 17%), Elounda (+18%), Ios (+19%), Zakynthos (+21%) and Lefkada (+38%).

 

Rates dropped on 11 islands

 Ermoupoli Syros

Trivago says room rates have dropped 13% at Ermoupoli on Syros

 Higher prices are not a trend throughout Greece, however, since nightly room rates actually have dropped significantly on some islands or, in the case of Rhodes, at one of its most popular tourist destinations (Lindos), Trivago data indicates.

On Folegandros, for example, the average price for a hotel room this month is €97, down a startling 27% from the €133 average rate in July 2013. Sharp price cuts also occurred at Koukounaries on Skiathos (-24%), Spetses (-23%), Argostoli (-15%), Astipalea (-14%), Ermoupoli on Syros (-13%), Lindos on Rhodes (-10%). Lower reductions were noted on Koufonissi and Tinos (both -4%)  and at Molyvos and Apollonia (both -3%).

Curiously, the Trivago survey didn’t mention prices on Santorini which, like Mykonos, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.

 Folegandros chora

Chora village on Folegandros. Average hotel room rates on this charming island dropped by 27% this month compared to July 2013, Trivago says.

 

Mykonos among Top 10 most expensive global destinations

Mykonos achieved notoriety for pricey hotel rooms on another Trivago report that made the news a few days ago. In a survey of summer 2014 trends for travellers from the United Kingdom, Trivago examined searches conducted between January 1 and June 15 for travel to take place during this month and August. (Trivago’s system compares rates from more than 700,000 hotels on more than 150 different booking sites around the world.)

The data showed that the average online price for a hotel in Mykonos Town was €244 Euros. This gave Mykonos the #7 spot on Trivago’s list of the Top 10 Most Expensive Global Destinations, behind #1 Velden, Austria; #2 Belek, Turkey, #3 Ascona, Switzerland, #4 Porto Vecchio, Corsica, #5 Montreux, Switzerland, and #6, Boston, USA.  Rounding out the top 10 behind Mykonos were #8 New York, USA, #9 Locarno, Switzerland, and #10 Lugano, Switzerland.

The results of the two Trivago surveys will cement Mykonos’s reputation as one of the most expensive places to visit in Greece — something that shouldn’t really come as a surprise, considering that the island was put on the map by the jet set in the first place, and remains a popular getaway destination for the world’s rich and famous.

Still, a 61% increase in prices is startling, even for a place frequented by affluent travellers.

 Mykonos Town

Rooftops on buildings in Mykonos Town. Hotel rates on the island are practically going through the roof this year, rising 61% over prices for July 2013.

 

Complaints raised in emails seeking hotel advice

I noticed that Mykonos hotel prices were on the rise early this year when I was checking hotel rates to answer accommodation questions posted in the Mykonos travel forum on TripAdvisor.com. Prices seemed marginally higher than I remembered them being in 2013. As winter moved into spring, I received numerous private messages on TripAdvisor, and emails to my blog, from people seeking suggestions for cheaper accommodation because they were finding summer prices too high.

Many of the people complaining about high hotel rates were travellers from the United Kingdom who wanted to stay on Mykonos only one night. They were flying to Mykonos on EasyJet or British Airways direct flights, but immediately transferring to another island — usually Naxos, Paros or somewhere in the Small Cyclades. Because of awkward ferry schedules, many of these travellers would have to spend a night on Mykonos in order to catch their return flights home. Many were astounded not only by the high room rates on Mykonos, but also by the fact many hotels impose a minimum stay requirement of 3 nights or longer during peak travel season, which limited their accommodation options even further.

My advice for travellers seeking summer bargains is to shop around on Trivago and other online sites, and to compare prices found there to rates listed on hotel websites. Booking directly with a hotel can sometimes achieve either significant price savings or extras like complimentary shuttle service to and from the Mykonos ferry ports or airports.

If you still find Mykonos hotels too expensive for your budget, consider visiting nearby islands like Naxos or Syros instead, or one of the places where the Trivago survey showed that prices have dropped this year. There are many other islands where budget-minded tourists will get more bang for their buck. But if you’re looking for glitz, glamour and glitter, there’s only one Mykonos — and going there this summer could put a bigger dent in your wallet than you’re anticipating.

 Kos Town harbour

Tour boats in the harbour at Kos Town. Trivago found that average hotel rates for Kos have gone up 17% for this month compared to the same time last year.

 

Chrisospilia taverna’s colourful dining terrace on Folegandros

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Chrisospilia restaurant

A chalkboard menu lists dinner specials at Chrisospilia restaurant

 

Missed opportunity: The colourful open-air dining terrace at Chrisospilia restaurant caught our attention while we were walking around Chora village shortly after arriving at Folegandros island several years ago.  It was late afternoon and the restaurant wasn’t open at the time, but the chalkboard menu indicated that the evening dinner specials would include a variety of chicken, pork, lamb, pasta and risotto dishes, along with grilled shrimp and grilled octopus.

We meant to return for a meal, but Chrisospilia somehow slipped our minds while we were busy exploring the island, and we never made it there (surprisingly, we didn’t get back down the street where it’s located, even though we thought we had walked every lane in Chora at least twice.) 

It wasn’t until we were reviewing our trip photos back home, and saw several pics of Chrisospilia, that we realized we had forgotten to drop by for dinner. We had delicious meals at other restaurants, but their dining areas weren’t as attractive as Chrisospilia’s. We’ll try to check it out if we ever return to Folegandros. It has received a series of excellent reviews this year on TripAdvisor.com, which currently ranks Chrisospilia as the #11 restaurant out of 44 on the island.

 Chrisospilia restaurant

Scarlet and pink bougainvillea provide a colourful canopy for the open-air dining terrace at Chrisospilia restaurant

 Chrisospilia restaurant

Side view of the Chrisospilia restaurant terrace

 

A swell time at Angali beach on Folegandros

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Angali beach Folegandros

This marvellous photo of massive waves crashing ashore at Angali beach on Folegandros was posted online recently by Instagram member Io2109

 

 

Angali beach Folegandros

while this image, which is from a photo gallery on the Folegandros.com travel website, shows the scenic beach and bay in weather conditions far more suitable for enjoyable swimming and sunbathing

 

 

Beautiful bay: Every time I see photos of Folegandros, I feel an urge to curse and kick.

I want to curse the wind because that’s what caused the cancellation of ferry service during two days of our Greek holiday in 2007, and kept us from spending as much time on Folegandros as we had planned. 

And I feel like kicking myself for not making a better effort to get back to Folegandros for a repeat visit in the years that have passed since our far-too-brief introduction to this charming island in the West Cyclades.

Folegandros is an ideal destination for hikers, and we did a lot of walking during our whirlwind two-day visit that September (we were supposed to have had 3.5 days there, but Mother Nature made certain we saw more of Sifnos instead. No offence to Sifnos, but we really regret getting shortchanged on Folegandros).

One of our walks took us from Chora to Ano Meria village, where we had an unforgettable lunch at Irini’s grocery store & café (which I profiled in a June 23 2012 post), and then walked to Angali beach, where we stopped at a hillside taverna to rest with a cold drink while taking in the terrific views of the picturesque bay.

 

Sunshine, clear skies and a light breeze

It was a gorgeous sunny day with clear skies, a faint breeze and warm temperatures. There were only about two dozen people at the beach that afternoon, and most were either playing paddleball or sunbathing on the sand. The sea was cool but fairly calm, and a few people were taking quick dips and swimming.

I have vivid memories of how peaceful Angali Bay looked on that particular day, so I almost didn’t recognize it in a photo I discovered while surfing the web today. The picture that caught my attention is the one at the top of this post — a dramatic image of huge, wide waves breaking ashore as greyish-white clouds sweep across the blue sky above. The striking scene was captured by Instagram member Io2109, and I loved her photo so much I couldn’t help but share it. (Check her Instagram page for additional fabulous photos of Folegandros as well as other places in Greece.)

Below are more images of Angali beach and bay. The first picture is from the Travel to Folegandros travel website, while the rest are shots we took back in September 2007. Sometime (soon, I hope) we’ll get back to Folegandros to see parts of the island we missed first time around.

 

Angali bay Folegandros

This image, from a photo gallery on the Travel to Folegandros website, shows the boat dock, beach and bay at Angali

 

 

 Angali beach road on Folegandros

Partway down the steep road that leads to Angali beach

 

 

Angali beach Folegandros

Nudist campers definitely aren’t welcome here!

 

 

Angali beach Folegandros

Two visitors (bottom left) take a swim in the bay’s turquoise water

 

 

Angali Bay Folegandros

Rolling mountain terrain and cliffs along Angali Bay

 

 

 Angali bay Folegandros

A fishing boat enters Angali Bay

 

 

Angali Bay on Folegandros

View from the fishing boat quay near Angali beach

 

 

Angali beach on Folegandros

Boats docked at the small quay near the beach

 

 

Angali beach on Folegandros

Whitewashed buildings with blue shutters on the hill above Angali beach

 

 

Angali beach on Folegandros

There are a few tavernas and several rental accommodations at the beach

 

 

Angali beach on Folegandros

Cliffs rise above the eastern end of the beach

 

 

Angali beach Folegandros

Paddleball game in progress

 

 

Angali beach Folegandros

Paddleball players on the beach

 

 

Angali beach on Folegandros

Swimmers enjoy the calm sea at Angali beach

 

 

Angali beach on Folegandros

Two swimmers have a chat while treading water in the bay

 

 

Angali beach on Folegandros

Sunbathers on the rocky shoreline to the east of the sandy beach

 

 

Angali bay on Folegandros

A boat sits at anchor in the middle of Angali Bay

 

Folegandros … rediscovered

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Conde Nast Traveler

The December 2004 edition of Condé Nast Traveler magazine featured a profile of Folegandros with this cover photo and headline calling it “The best little island in Greece…getting there is half the fun.”

 

 

Hidden gem?: I always have a good chuckle when I read a travel article describing a “secret,” “hidden” or “undiscovered” Greek island that few people are supposed to know about. Usually the island is fairly well-known, both to Greeks and to seasoned island hoppers or anyone who has been to Greece even just once.

Nearly 10 years ago, in its December 2004 edition, Condé Nast Traveler magazine published an intriguing feature story about Folegandros. Written by Adam Sachs, it was entitled Greece’s best-kept secret (until now). We had taken our first-ever trip to Greece just six months earlier, and I bought the magazine because I was eagerly researching destinations to visit during a return trip to Greece in 2005. I had heard and read about Folegandros (in fact, it was already on my “must see someday” list), but at that point in time couldn’t resist buying any magazine that contained photos or information about Greece. The fascinating account of Adam Sachs’ visit to Folegandros made me yearn to see the island even more.

I clipped the Condé Nast article to save in my travel reference files, and re-read it before we went to Folegandros in September 2007. I have perused the article several times since, and have given the link to the online version of it to a number of people during the past six years.

 

The Panaghia (Church of Our Lady) is perched high above Chora village on Folegandros

The stunning Panaghia (Church of Our Lady) clings to the steep mountainside high above Chora village

 

 

Panaghia on Folegandros

A view of the Panaghia (Church of Our Lady) at sunset. The remarkable white church is one of many mesmerizing sights on Folegandros.

 

 

 

Folegandros photos popular online

I also gave many people the links to my Folegandros pictures on the Webshots.com photo-sharing website where my Greece travel photos had been viewed by more than 2.5 million people before public access to the site was discontinued at the end of 2012. Four separate albums of Folegandros images were among my Top 20 most-viewed albums, and each was seen by more than 20,000 people.

Meanwhile, between 2007 and 2011, I talked about Folegandros in more than three dozen posts on the TripAdvisor.com travel forums, where plenty of people appeared to be familiar with the island. In the three years since then, even more travellers have been talking about Folegandros on TripAdvisor, and one regular Folegandros visitor recently rued the surge in tourist traffic to his favourite island in recent years (he complained that the increase in visitors had led some restaurants to hike their dinner prices, while his beloved nude beach has begun to get too crowded).

 

Angali beach

Cliffs soar above Angali, one of the most popular beaches on Folegandros

 

 

Karavostassis Folegandros

Whitewashed buildings cling to a hillside at Karavostassis, the port village of Folegandros

 

 

 

Folegandros included on Fodor Travel list

So I was more than a little amused earlier this week when I logged into the MyGreeceTravelBlog Facebook page to catch up on news, and found numerous posts on other Facebook pages reporting that Folegandros has been ranked among the Top 15 “undiscovered destinations” in Europe. Each post provided a link to the Huffington Post website, where Folegandros was indeed ranked #12 on a list of 15 Undiscovered European Destinations.

 Huffington Post published the list on April 7, but that was just a reprint of a photo feature with the same title that originally had been published March 11 on Fodor’s Travel.

According to the Fodor ranking, Folegandros “proposes a welcomed escape from the hustle and bustle of more popular Greek islands. Perched on a towering seaside cliff, the island doesn’t offer much in the way of attractions—but makes up for it with local charm. Visitors can explore untouched beaches, sample traditional food, and spend quiet evenings contemplating the breathtaking, sun-touched cliffs.”

Most of that description is spot-on correct, but it’s actually just the main village, Chora, that is perched atop a seaside cliff — not the entire island! Grammatical errors aside, Folegandros does boast a spectacular coastline of precipitous and breathtaking sheer cliffs, as well as numerous small beaches that are popular with the thousands of people who visit the island each summer. It also has a pronounced local charm, a generous selection of excellent restaurants, and quiet evenings. But Folegandros is far from “undiscovered.”

 

Chora village Folegandros

Residents of the historic Kastro section of Chora live literally on the edge — their homes are built atop a sheer cliff that plunges hundreds of feet to the sea

 

 

north coast of Folegandros

Another view of buildings in the Kastro section of Chora (upper left) and the rugged landscape and coastline on the north side of Folegandros

 

 

 

Tourism surged after the magazine profile

When we finally got to the island in September 2007, staff we spoke to at our hotel and at some of the restaurants in Chora told us that tourism had been booming ever since Folegandros made the cover of Condé Nast Traveler. (Just what you’d expect for any place profiled in a travel magazine read by more than a million North Americans each month.)

One fellow told us that, during August, just one month before our visit, dozens of people with no hotel reservations stepped off a ferry, expecting it would be easy to find rooms — but every bed was sold out.  Locals scrambled to collect blankets and pillows and create makeshift sleeping quarters so the extra travellers would have a place to bed down for the night. Meanwhile, a mini construction boom was underway, with new hotels and private accommodations being built to cash in on the steadily growing traffic. A concrete frame for a new building was under construction right next to Fata Morgana Studios, where we were staying. And ferry companies had begun serving Folegandros with highspeed passenger catamarans to get more travellers to the island faster than the “milk run” car and truck ferries that stopped at multiple islands en route and took all day to get there.

So it clearly was Condé Nast, and not Fodor’s, that “discovered” Folegandros — and that was a full decade ago. But enough nitpicking about media hype. Ten years from now, some other publication or website will probably post a gushingly positive profile proclaiming that Folegandros is a “hidden gem” still waiting to be discovered.

 

Fata Morgana Studios

The Fata Morgana Studios swimming pool at sunset. The property has a view of several nearby islands, including Sifnos, which is faintly visible in the distance behind the umbrella.

 

 

Add this captivating island to your must-see list

If you haven’t been to Folegandros yet, consider giving it a visit. The island truly is as wonderful and captivating as the travel journalists claim. And chances are high that you, like us, will instantly fall in love with the place.

We have long been keen to pay Folegandros a return visit, but just haven’t been able to work it into any of our island hopping itineraries because of awkward ferry schedules and connections. Which is a good thing, because as long Folegandros remains off the main beaten path, it should retain its unique charm and character. And that’s what we want to experience again when we finally do make it back.

Below are links to two of my Folegandros photo album collections on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page. The main Folegandros album contains nearly 260 pictures of the island, while the second set features more than 70 photos of Fata Morgana Studios.

 

 Folegandros island

Rugged sheer cliffs on the coastline below Hora village provide some of the jaw-dropping natural scenery that delights visitors to Folegandros. Click here to view more than 250 more photos of the island in my Folegandros album on Flickr.

 

 

 Fata Morgana Studios

A view of the swimming pool and part of the rental apartment complex at Fata Morgana Studios, where we stayed during our trip to Folegandros. Click here to view my Flickr album with dozens more photos of the hotel.

 

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